Diagnosis by Vera Wahlquist

Self-portrait by Vera Wahlquist

Self-portrait by Vera Wahlquist

it will be one person at a time that will find out that i’ve been marked, labeled

for now it’s my mother, and when she found out she cried and hugged me and said it’s fine it’s fine i’ll be alright and i couldn’t help but wonder why she wouldn’t be

and my mother will tell my father and my father will tell his wife and they will come into my room and close the door and sit me down on my bed and face me and say are you okay?

and maybe she will tell her sister, who will pat me on the arm next summer and ask how are you? with a sympathetic head tilt and an inquiring gaze that means oh honey oh honey and she’ll tell me that i can always talk to her if i need to

and my relatives will become a line of pep-talks and conversations largely devoted to telling me that they love me no matter what i am, and they all include hugs and tears and i will stand there, hoping i can go home and sleep soon and they will cry harder because they think this is what it’s made me

anything i do will be excused and explained by criteria in DSM and that’s all i’ll ever be

i will be brave, i will be alright, i will be the one that they tell stories about to their friends when they speak of mental patients and people they know who were admitted to hospitals because they’re special

i will be the one that nobody ever expected go mad, because i was such a happy child, and i will become past tense, a shell of what i used to be, and all nice stories will be told with a tone that says before she changed

and when i come home it will be to questions, endless questions, that seem to bury themselves in my mind and choke everything i ever thought was unquestionably true, because my own mind has betrayed me, and i’ve become someone else in the eyes of people i believed knew me for who i was

nobody can trust me anymore because they don’t know where i end and my disorder begins